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HR and a Harasser

Jul 2, 2020 | sexism, studio culture

When I worked at [Large AAA studio], it was undergoing a cultural change as a result of doubling in size very rapidly. There was a very prominent, very toxic white guy (let’s call him D) who was basically permanently in his position of power due to his role. He was known to have harassed some women in the studio, but because of the amount of clout he had (especially with the gaming audience) he was deemed untouchable.

While I wasn’t personally harassed by D, all my interactions with him were unpleasant. He was bullish and wilfully blind about the concerns that women and people of color had in the studio. When he was called out about his behavior, he’d claim ignorance. Complaints to HR about D went nowhere, likely also because HR was from the “old” studio culture where nepotism and toxicity thrived.

After a few years, I left for not-unrelated reasons. During my exit interview, the HR manager I was speaking to asked me about my interactions with D. Since I was on my way out I talked openly about how I found him frustrating to work with, and how I thought he was trying to undermine a lot of the cultural improvements we had made at the studio. At this point, she interrupted me, saying, “Wait, I don’t get what the problem is”, in a way that felt gaslighting. I repeated what I said, with examples to help make it clear what I was talking about. She interrupted me again, this time to say “okay, I’m cutting this meeting short.”

When I left her office, I looked back to see that she was going to lunch WITH THE PERSON I HAD JUST COMPLAINED ABOUT.

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